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I'm disabled, what are my chances?


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Hello everyone,

I'm writing here because I'm in desperate need of some advice and I'm so sorry if i waffle on.

I am a council tenant with an assured tenancy. I live in my house with my fiance and am disabled (I have severe rheumatoid arthritis).

We have been served with our court papers (court date is September 14 2011) for the seeking possession order the council have made for non payment of rent (ground 10). We pay £6.41 per week as I am in full receipt of housing benefit. As of October 2010 two payments of over £100 each (October and February) have been made to the council by my fiance. He receives our benefits into his bank account and doesn't let me have control of the money at all.

We are currently in arrears of £124. I tried over the months to make my fiance allow me to make regular payments to no avail as he would empty the account before I could even pay it over the phone. I realise this is my fault and should have sought help or done something sooner, but I was, in all honestly, terrified.

Last month I made an arrangement with my council to allow me to pay the arrears off in installments after I explained the situation, but they were asking me to pay it all off in 2 - 3 weeks. I only agreed because i honestly thought it was the only option i had and i had every intention of trying to do it. I was unable.

My fiance in the mean time allowed me to change the account into which the benefits are paid (to mine) so i now have control of the money. Because of this, I can pay the arrears off before the court date and set up a direct debit to pay on time every month.

I am sick with worry because we were at court 3 years ago for the same thing with the same council (however that was because of a fault on housing benefits part and we were given a suspended possession order); this is the main worry I have, but also because it is classed as intentional i believe. My fiance will not admit in court what he has done (if he turns up) and I also have nowhere else to go, no family, nothing, only my fiance (perhaps thats why i put up with this for so long), if I was evicted what would I do?

However, it is not intentional on my behalf and I know people will say it is my own fault and I deserve it, but I have done everything I can to rectify the situation and am continuing to do so. My arthritis has been severely aggravated by this but i am also extremely ill in general with worry. That past court appearance is hanging over my head even though it wasn't our fault, I just don't know what to do. I have an appointment with my citizen's advice bureau on Tuesday 9 August but there is just something telling me nothing will help.

Please help me if you can, I am desperate.

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Hello everyone,

I'm writing here because I'm in desperate need of some advice and I'm so sorry if i waffle on.

I am a council tenant with an assured tenancy. I live in my house with my fiance and am disabled (I have severe rheumatoid arthritis).

We have been served with our court papers (court date is September 14 2011) for the seeking possession order the council have made for non payment of rent (ground 10). We pay £6.41 per week as I am in full receipt of housing benefit. As of October 2010 two payments of over £100 each (October and February) have been made to the council by my fiance. He receives our benefits into his bank account and doesn't let me have control of the money at all.

We are currently in arrears of £124. I tried over the months to make my fiance allow me to make regular payments to no avail as he would empty the account before I could even pay it over the phone. I realise this is my fault and should have sought help or done something sooner, but I was, in all honestly, terrified.

Last month I made an arrangement with my council to allow me to pay the arrears off in installments after I explained the situation, but they were asking me to pay it all off in 2 - 3 weeks. I only agreed because i honestly thought it was the only option i had and i had every intention of trying to do it. I was unable.

My fiance in the mean time allowed me to change the account into which the benefits are paid (to mine) so i now have control of the money. Because of this, I can pay the arrears off before the court date and set up a direct debit to pay on time every month.

I am sick with worry because we were at court 3 years ago for the same thing with the same council (however that was because of a fault on housing benefits part and we were given a suspended possession order); this is the main worry I have, but also because it is classed as intentional i believe. My fiance will not admit in court what he has done (if he turns up) and I also have nowhere else to go, no family, nothing, only my fiance (perhaps thats why i put up with this for so long), if I was evicted what would I do?

However, it is not intentional on my behalf and I know people will say it is my own fault and I deserve it, but I have done everything I can to rectify the situation and am continuing to do so. My arthritis has been severely aggravated by this but i am also extremely ill in general with worry. That past court appearance is hanging over my head even though it wasn't our fault, I just don't know what to do. I have an appointment with my citizen's advice bureau on Tuesday 9 August but there is just something telling me nothing will help.

Please help me if you can, I am desperate.

 

Firstly, no district judge is going to award outright possession on the basis of 124 quid, even if you already have a suspended possession order.

 

It is an amount that is well within your means to clear and since you are on benefits you do not have to do this at much more than 3.40 a week (which is the statutory minimum for someone on benefits). You can of course offer more than that if you can afford it. You do not have to pay it off within 2-3 weeks and if this does end up in court you must inform the judge that this is what you were told by the housing officer. It is, frankly, flouting the pre-action protocols to threaten a tenant in this way.

 

It is unusual for a court to grant an SPO on the basis of a problem with Housing Benefit.

 

In any case, don't worry, you can substantially reduce the arrears before any court date and when the time comes I am sure Ell-enn will help you to draft a defence - though in reality it almost certainly isn't going to be a problem.

 

My suggestion for today would be to write to the housing office and offer to pay the current rent, together with any benefit and a sum towards the arrears (do an income and expenditure form to find out what you can reasonably afford - it cannot be below 3.40 a week). If they do not respond or they refuse, ask them to put any response in writing (so that you can show it to the court - it will show unreasonableness on their part), and then MAKE the payments on a regular basis. If you prefer to pay monthly, pay it monthly, but make this clear to them in your letter and give them a date on which it will hit your rent account. Do not fail to make the payments and always make them on the date you stated you will. Do that and it is highly unlikely you will lose your home.

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